Madingley Hall

Gardeners Choice for September


Dahlia ‘Bishop of Canterbury’, ‘D. ‘Bishop of York’, D. ’David Howard’ and D. ‘Tally Ho’

Richard has selected a seasonal favourite, the Dahlia, a tuberous tender perennial; all those selected possess dark bronze foliage which provides a contrast to the vivid flowers.  D. ‘David Howard’ is featured on the front page, displays orange and bronze flowers in the corner of the Courtyard.  It is classified as a Miniature Decorative.  D. ‘Bishop of York’ has a single yellow bronze flower and grows in the west facing border in the Walled Garden.  D. ‘Bishop of Canterbury’ has a purple flower and grows in the dye section of the medicinal border.  Both are featured in the picture to the left and classified as Miscellaneous, perhaps a little unflattering given their association with two of the most significant ecclesiastical positons.  Nearby is D. ‘Tally Ho’, classified as a ‘Dwarf Single’ with red flowers.  Dahlia flowers can be used to create yellow and orange with an alum mordant (a substance which helps to bind the colour to textiles) or an iron mordant for green colouring.


Colchicum autumnale                                       Medicinal Border, Walled Garden


Charlotte has chosen the meadow saffron, an autumn flowering corm from the Central and Southern European meadows. All parts of this beautiful plant are highly poisonous but colchicine derived from the ripe seeds and corm is highly effective in the treatment of gout and other ailments. The leaves appear in the spring, then wither and die in the summer to be replaced by the pinkish purplish flowers in the early autumn.

Acis autumnalis (syn.Leucojum autumnale)                     Alpine Bed, Walled Garden


Richard has selected an exquisite and delicate bulbous plant known as the autumn snowflake and is a joy in early autumn. It is a relative of the more vigorous and robust spring snowflake which grows in the woodland border.


Cobea scandens                                                                                           Courtyard


Richard’s second choice is the cup and saucer vine, an evergreen woody stemmed climber, which is usually treated as an annual. Both our specimens survived last winter with some foliage remaining and have bounced back with vigorous growth and flower this summer. This Mexican plant climbs using tendrils and the flowers vary from green-white to purple


Agastache foeniculum (syn. A. anisata)                Medicinal Border, Walled Garden



Colm has selected this hardy perennial but grown here as an annual.  As with other plants in the Lamiaceae family the spikes of blue flowers are great for bees, and Agastache have the added attraction of leaves smelling strongly of liquorice


Strobilanthes attenuata                               Dart Border, Walled Garden and Courtyard


Although looking a little like a Salvia, this unusual and vibrant hardy perennial is in the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae) and native to Nepal.  It is inconspicuous for most of the season until the eye-catching blue flowers arrive in late summer. It is a versatile plant growing in dry, sunny and shaded parts of the garden

Aralia elata ‘Aureovariegata’                                                                               Courtyard


Sally opts for the variegated Japanese angelica which grows above the Strobilanthes in the north east corner. It is a small, open tree with large, bipinnate leaves at the tips of the stout, spiny stems. Its flowers are tiny and cream, in large panicles. In Japan the shoots of the Aralia are delicacy, cut in spring and coated in tempura batter and fried.

Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ (Syn. P. atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’)                                   Courtyard


Sally’s second choice is the Russian sage is deciduous sub-shrub found in the Stuart Room border. It has upright, white stems bearing deeply divided, aromatic greyish leaves. The fragrance is an interesting combination of sage and lavender, sometimes thought to resemble turpentine. Its large panicles of small, violet-blue, tubular flowers will last until well into the autumn. The species originates south western and central Asia and this cultivar was selected by Notcutts Nurseries and first exhibited in 1961. The species was introduced by a Russian General, Vasily Perovsky to western gardens in the 19th Century and the plant is sometimes used to flavour a vodka based cocktail

Images by Colm Sheppard